Dipping into the vast literature on clinical empathy, one quickly discerns the dominant storyline. Everyone agrees that empathy, while hard to define, hovers around a kind of physicianly caring that incorporates emotional connection with patients.
The connection conveys sensitivity to the patient’s life circumstances and personal psychology, and gains expression in the physician’s ability to encourage the patient to express emotion, especially as it pertains to his medical condition. Then the physician draws on her own experience of similar emotions in communicating an “accurate” empathic understanding of how the patient feels and why he should feel that way.
by Paul E. Stepansky, Ph.D.